Minority report (Poor Law)

Minority Report (Poor Law)

Minority report (Poor Law)

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The Minority report was one of two reports published by the Royal Commission into the Operation of the Poor Laws 1905-09, the other being Majority report. Headed by the Fabian socialist Beatrice Webb, it called for a system that was radically different from the existing Poor Law. She, amongst the others heading the report, who included George Lansbury, felt that it was shortsighted of society to expect paupers to be entirely accountable for themselves. However the report proved unsuccessful, most of its proposals being disregarded by the new Liberal Government of 1906 when implementing their Liberal reforms.

Contribution of Sidney and Beatrice Webb

The Minority Report to the Commission was among the most famous of the Webbs' outputs. (Sidney Webb was not a member of the Commission, but the Minority Report was a Webb co-production). Beatrice Webb wrote that its purpose was "to secure a national minimum of civilised life ... open to all alike, of both sexes and all classes, by which we meant sufficient nourishment and training when young, a living wage when able-bodied, treatment when sick, and modest but secure livelihood when disabled or aged".

Historian Jose Harris, the biographer of William Beveridge, has written that "in historical accounts of modern social policy, the Royal Commission - and in particular its famous Minority Report - has often been closely twinned with the Beveridge Plan of 1942 as one of the two most seminal public...
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